Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jonah's auction update

I've changed my button back to the regular "Jonah" button (for those of you who have been following)--his birthday auction ended last night at midnight. I didn't win any items (sigh), but at last count, they made over $6500 to go to EB research, which they probably wouldn't have done had bidding stayed within my price range!

Thanks to those of you who checked it out and/or bid on items!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

First POC challenge book: One Day the Soldiers Came

Finished just in time to link as a February read.

One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War (P.S.) One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War by Charles London

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first book I'm reading for the 2010 "Person of Color Reading Challenge." The author is white, so I somewhat feel like I'm cheating, but most of the book is based on interviews with children and teens from Rwanda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma/Myanmar, and the Balkans, so it gives voice to people from around the world.

I read it in ARC format, so I should allow some leniency in any critiques. I felt that it was very, very good, but a little jumpy--some children's stories were followed in some depth and returned to several times, while others were only mentioned once and briefly. This may be due to the reality of how interviewing and being able to keep up with subjects works. I also found it hard to remember who was who when stories were revisited.

Still, it does a powerful job of telling the stories of older children and adolescents who have been through war, and an especially good job of respecting these children--I think the author mentions several times that children are "the protagonists in their own stories," a fact that adults forget. So while these children have been caught in situations that render them powerless, they were still active agents in making their own decisions, figuring out how to survive etc.

Well done.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book notes

I don't have much to blog about right now, but here are some books worth sharing:

The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask by Edie Eckman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reading to help with the basics needed to make some crochet motifs...

I'm moving this to "read," even though I'll keep going back to it--it's a great reference book--small enough to fit in a work bag, and so far successful at answering several of my crochet questions!

I have successfully completed one "motif" from the other crochet book that I need to photograph and post here. I need to play with photographing it, and I also want to see if I can get a decent photo of the page example for comparison. Stay tuned...

The Third Day, The Frost (The Tomorrow Series, Book 3) The Third Day, The Frost by John Marsden

Already read the American paperback version (title changed to A Killing Frost) when I made my way through the series--purchased the audiobook from iTunes store as my first purchase for a Christmas iPod and am currently enjoying listening to it--the narrator is Australian, and I like hearing the flavor of the language!

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My first ever Amazon pre-order...can't wait!

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The thin blue line

"Librarians--the thin blue line between you and the FBI."

I have no idea where this quote comes from (a quick Google search didn't reveal it, and I am too lazy at this point in the evening--just after midnight--to do a more thorough search--I will put it on my homework list!), but I love it. This evening, however, I have another thin blue line in mind--between students and faculty.

I love working with students. But I don't love everything about it, and here are a few of those:
  • Trying to help a student with an assignment that is poorly designed.
  • Trying to help a student find information that we don't have in our collection.
  • Helping a student who only wants to blow off steam about the unfairness of their professors and hopes you will do their work for them.
All of these issues arise when librarians are caught between students and faculty. On the one hand, we want to show great customer service and send students away full of useful resources and knowledge about how to use them. On the other hand, our students aren't customers in the traditional sense--we are definitely not supposed to do everything for them. The same issue comes up with professors--we want to make it easier for them to teach, but we can't do that if they have unrealistic expectations.

Some of the burden of fixing these issues fall with librarians and the library: we need to make clear which services we do provide and which we don't. We also have to present this information to both students and faculty. Still, students and faculty need to take on some responsibility, too.

If you are a faculty member, here's what you can do:
  • Try out your assignments before you assign them! If you can't find the information needed, it may be that our collection doesn't have it--how successful do you think your students will be?
  • Talk to/e-mail your librarians. We want to hear from you! If you have a question about the library or our collection scope, ask us! And a heads' up when you are going to send 30 students looking for information on a Biblical parable would be a nice gesture, too.
  • Plan ahead. You tell your students this, and we would like to politely request it of you as well. If you need library instruction or collaboration, a 2-3 week notice is good. Letting us know at the beginning of the semester that you'd like to work with us is worth brownie points.
If you are a student, here's what you can do:
  • Get to know the library BEFORE the week your assignment is due. This will make your life easier, and it will also give you a better picture of how we can and can't help you. We don't have everything on a database, and we probably can't get a book we don't own by tomorrow.
  • Bring writing utensils to the library. We really can't afford to provide pens and pencils to the entire campus.
  • Ask your professor for details about the assignment if you don't understand it. Librarians are not omniscient, and your question may well be the first time we've heard about the assignment.
  • Be prepared to do the work yourself--we are here to help you and teach you--not to do your research for you.
Comments? Do you have requests you'd like to make of librarians in return? Please share!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jonah's EB Auction

I've mentioned Jonah once before here, and you've probably grown accustomed to seeing a button about him on the sidebar.

I found out about Jonah through a mutual friend of his mom's. He was born with a rare genetic disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB. EB causes his skin to blister very easily, and it also affects his mucous membranes (so, for example, swallowing can be hard and/or painful when his esophagus flares up). Most of his body has to be wrapped up in bandages all the time, and his parents have to change his bandages once a day (more often when normal baby things like spitting up or a crazy diaper interfere!). EB is not pleasant for any of the people who have it, and many babies die within their first year of life from it.

Jonah will turn one on February 27. Hooray!!

To celebrate, while also helping raise money to research and spread awareness about the disease, some friends of Jonah's family are holding an online auction (hence the new button that's been up recently). From February 23-27, the auction site will have around a hundred items to bid on, and all the money goes to DEBRA, which is an organization devoted to researching and raising awareness about EB. The auction-sponsors aren't even collecting the money themselves--you pay it directly to DEBRA if you win an item.

All the information can be found here.

Please consider bidding on an item, and please pass the information along to others you know who might be interested!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Maternity leave

My husband and I are expecting our second child (a girl!) at the end of May. We are very excited. I told my library director and immediate supervisor 2 weeks before our library closed for Christmas, when I had completely given up on my regular pants and had broken my maternity clothes out of the closet. So far, I've only heard supportive things from both of them.

I'm hoping to wait a few weeks before I officially request the amount of time I'm going to take for maternity leave, balancing the time I know I will need to do all the paperwork and learn all the ins and outs of benefits, etc. with the time needed to figure out what will be best for our family--financially, time-wise, and sanity-wise.

In the meantime, I'm going to get back up on my soapbox about U.S. family-friendly practices (or lack thereof). I do understand that a woman going out on maternity leave results in a gap in the employer's workforce. Still, I think that children are good for society as a whole and that it is also good for society when parents get to spend extended time raising their children. I don't think it's necessarily more important for a mother to stay home than a father, but if the couple chooses to breastfeed, it's a whole lot simpler! In any case, while I would argue for parental leave for either parent, there is the medical need for women have some time at home. Even for those women who would prefer to go back to work sooner rather than later, the childcare infrastructure in our country isn't great. It's really expensive for parents while still not being well-paying for most child-care workers. It's also not always easy to find.

I don't have a perfect solution to offer, but I do think it's an extension of our country prioritizing security (and all that money spent works so well, as this past Christmas shows) far above education--teachers and childcare workers are given lip-service, but not the pay to go with it. Sigh. If one of you has that perfect solution, please let your law-makers know, pronto!

I also want to take the chance to highlight Motherlode, which is the New York Times' parenting blog, run by Lisa Belkin. Ms. Belkin highlights issues such as this all the time (she recently featured a pair of posts about working w/ baby vs. quitting to be w/ baby), and the discussion gets quite vivid! She just had a post about maternity leave in the US, and touches on the topic with some regularity. If you are interested in this sort of thing (as well as a smorgasbord of other issues related to parenting), go visit!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

POC Reading Challenge

I found out about the POC (persons of color) reading challenge after recent Twitter/blogging furor over Bloomsbury's "whitewashing" of a character in a new YA/children's book. Between this and (looking over my Goodreads list from the last year) my own appalling lack of reading books featuring non-white protagonists lately, this seems like a good reading project for 2010.

I compiled a list of books I've been wanting to read that fit the category, and if I get to them all, I'll easily fulfill the requirements for Level 4 (10-15 books) this year. This is a bit ambitious for me, both because I know there are many other books I want to read and because many of these are (gasp) adult books, which take me longer to get through than kids'/YA books. Still, it's do-able and I intend to do it!

Here's my list, in no particular order:
  • Children of the New World by Assia Djebar
    • I translated part of a memoir/reflection on her writing for my honors French project in college, so I want to read some more by Djebar. This particular work was given to me by my sister-in-law and has been sitting on my nightstand for too long.
  • La femme sans s├ępulture by Assia Djebar
    • I bought this in France on our honeymoon--5 and a half years ago! Plus, I need to practice my French.
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
    • Seems to important not to have read.
  • Zorro by Isabel Allende
    • I hope this counts; I started reading it but have temporarily set it aside. From what I started, I believe that Zorro is going to be the son of a Spanish man and an American Indian woman.
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation. Vol. I: The Pox Party and Vol. II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M. T. Anderson
    • YA historical fiction set in the American revolution period.
  • All Aunt Hagar's Children: Stories by Edward P. Jones
    • Probably bought this about two years ago--I was interested that it was stories set in Washington, D.C. Need to pick it up off the nightstand and read it!
  • Up at the College by Michele Andrea Bowen
    • A local Durham author who came to speak at our library (I missed it since it was at noon)--it sounds like a fun, light read.
  • A Mercy by Toni Morrison
    • I didn't really like the other Morrison books I've read--Sula and Beloved (I can never hear the hymn "Shall We Gather at the River" without thinking of National Suicide Day and consequently don't like that hymn!)--but I definitely found them interesting, and I'm curious as to how this one ties in with the story of Beloved.
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
    • A story about slavery during the American revolution by a YA author I really like.
  • The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara
    • I've wanted to read this since I saw the movie (yes, I saw the movie first!).
  • One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War by Charles London
    • I don't know if the author is white or not, but my understanding is that the focus of this book is children in Africa, so I am still going to count it in my total. I'll be reading an ARC version that I got at the American Library Association annual conference in 2007, so I have to keep in mind that I have an unfinished version.
I think I'm actually going to start with the last book, once I finish the book I'm currently reading (Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott--a fascinating blend of historical fiction and fantasy, plus it's told in 2nd person!), and I will add updates as I proceed.